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Passion Pit wows Chicago crowd for the second time

Maija Gustin | Monday, April 26, 2010

Popular electropop band Passion Pit, known for hits like “Sleepyhead” and “Little Secrets,” headlined a concert Thursday at Chicago’s Congress Theater for the second time in a month. They played the same venue on April 2 as well. Both concerts sold out easily and the theater, with a capacity of 4,000, was completely packed Thursday.

The band brought energy to its set, but unfortunately the concert was marred by a totally subpar opening act. Chicago band The Smith Westerns were unenjoyable and started the concert off on a bad foot. Their music was uninteresting and sounded completely unoriginal. It was also impossible to hear anything, with all the instruments sort of blending together, creating more blaring noise than actual music. And, unfortunately, for a new small indie band, they had a lot of songs. However, they were kind enough to remind the audience every three songs or so that Passion Pit would, indeed, be coming after their incessant noise finished.

Despite the lackluster opening band, the crowd roared when Passion Pit finally came on stage. And as soon as they played the first notes of “Make Light,” the audience was up on its feet and dancing along.

One of the biggest problems an electronic band can have in a live concert is an artificial sound. But despite the heavy use of computerized music, Passion Pit still played a great live concert. Lead singer Michael Angelakos, with his mind-blowingly high vocals, had the potential to sound awful, sort of like Patrick Stump from Fall Out Boy. However, he sounded almost as good as he does on the album, really impressing with his live performance. Passion Pit as a whole was in top form. Every song was bursting with energy and the crowd loved it, never not moving.

Highlights of the set include “Make Light,” “Let Your Love Grow Tall,” “The Reeling,” “Little Secrets” and the encore song, probably the best of the night, “Sleepyhead.” The band was clearly having a ton of fun on stage. Instead of interrupting the flow of songs with stories and anecdotes like some bands do, Passion Pit kept the energy moving from start to finish, only stopping a few times to take a breather and say thank you to the crowd.

Unfortunately, the band’s limited catalog meant a very short set — much too short for the liking of the enthusiastic crowd. When Passion Pit left the stage before their encore, the crowd barely gave the band two seconds of peace before chanting for them to come back on. “Sleepyhead,” which started under Angelakos’ final farewell, was the perfect way to end a great set by a great new band ready for some more recognition.

The concert could have been awful. The Smith Westerns did Passion Pit no favors, and it would have been plenty easy for Passion Pit’s brand of electronic dance music to fall completely flat in a live venue. But they put on a great show, leaving the crowd more than content.

Luckily, too, for fans of the band, news was recently released that Passion Pit will be back on tour this fall, this time backing British band Muse. Be on the lookout for what is sure to be a great concert tour later this year.